At the moment, it cannot be said, that farmers in the country are having a smooth drive on the path to attain self-sufficiency in food production, as funds, land tenure system, soil erosion and storage facilities among others still pose challenges to them.
It is observed with delight that the changing fortunes of the nation’s economy caused by oil glut in the global market have now re-focused government’s attention on farming. Consequently it has redirected efforts towards encouraging individuals and groups to embark on large scale farming as a surest way of striking a note of economic independence.
The need to encourage large scale farming in Nigeria is very apt. First, it increases foreign exchange earnings in the competitive international market. Also, farming stimulates the establishment of agro-allied industries. In addition, it enables experts to conduct researches into crops production, pest control, disease prevention and soil acidity with a view to increasing high crops yield as well as providing employment opportunities for the youths.
Obviously, it is in recognition of the important roles played by agriculture that have prompted different levels of government to always set aside a sizeable percentage of funds in their annual budget for food production.
The government’s allocation for farmers and other value chain stakeholders is commendable, but the prospective beneficiaries must reciprocate and spend the money judiciously for the intended purposes. Farmers in the country are also implored to take advantage of the opportunity by embarking on large scale farming to benefit from government gesture. They could also embark on massive cultivation of major export crops like cocoa, ginger, oil palm and rubber etc.
It is equally advisable for individuals and communities to engage in livestock production like goat rearing, piggery and poultry farming as well as establishment of fish ponds to increase the country’s protein needs.
Regrettably, many farmers are not exposed to new farming techniques and processes.As a way forward, government should equip Agric-extension officers with basic working tools to enable them educate and enlighten farmers on the application of fertilizers to crops, prevention of crop disease and usage of modern farming tools. In addition, farmers should be provided with infrastructure for storage and processing of crops, while modern farm implements could be made available at affordable prices.
While commending the effort of the present administration for usual financial assistance to farmers, it is advisable to call for early disbursement of micro-credit loans or grants to farmers, at least to enhance timely accelerated food programs in Nigeria.
BY MAURICE ASUQUO